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As the Israel-Hamas War enters into day 19, the call for an immediate ceasefire from across the world seems to be echoed in a high-level session of the Security Council after the plea made by the UN’s Secretary General, António Guterres.
On October 25, 2023, António Guterres, UN’s Secretary General, commented that Israel’s response to Hamas’s attack two weeks ago has allegedly led to the violations of international humanitarian law and urged for an immediate ceasefire. In addition to this, he also unequivocally condemned the fatal attacks by the Hamas gunmen as there can be no excuse for the “appalling” violence but he continued to say that these attacks “did not happen in a vacuum” since the Palestinian population has been enduring 56 years of “suffocating occupation”.
Guterres also said that it is important to consider the “collective punishment” that is being unleashed upon Palestinians by Israeli forces. Guterres had traveled personally to the crossing border of Gaza and Egypt in order to welcome three aid convoys through the Rafah crossing so as to provide assistance. He later said that the aid was like a drop in “an ocean of need” as hospitals etc. have completely stopped working due to lack of fuel.
Israel-Hamas War: How did the Israeli Ambassador respond?
In response to Guterres’s remarks, Gilad Erdan, who is the ambassador of Israel, expressed his anger and accused Guterres of “justifying terrorism and murder.” He has also asked the United Nations for the immediate resignation of the UN Secretary-General. Eli Cohen, Israeli Foreign Minister, also expressed his anger and asked “Mr Secretary-General, in what world do you live?”, while recounting the graphic horrors of the deaths suffered by civilians at the hands of Hamas gunmen on October 7, 2023. Cohen also commented that Israel had given Gaza to Palestinians since its withdrawal in 2005.
Israel has banned any United Nations representatives from entering the country by refusing to issue any visas to the respective authority in order to “teach them a lesson.” Israel’s response to Guterres’s comment reflects their long-standing belief that UN human rights councils are anti-Israeli in their agendas. They have already refused a visa to Martin Griffiths, undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs. Griffiths is also a former British diplomat and he has increasingly called out the inadequacy of UN aid in Gaza and has called for a ceasefire so that sufficient aid can be provided to the affected.
US vetoed the UN’s resolution last week: What exactly is that?
UN Security Council crafted a proposal to call for a “humanitarian pause” in the Gaza Strip so as to stop the current killings of Palestinians and also to lift the order of Israel which requires Palestinians to leave the north and move towards the south. However, Linda Thomas Greenfield, US Ambassador, has said that even though the draft was carefully crafted by Brazilian authorities, it did not mention Israel’s “right to self-defense.” This led to the US using its veto to block the resolution from coming into play. China called this move “nothing short of unbelievable” while Russia commented that this move by the US is evidence of its double standards.
Antony Blinken, Secretary of State, has asked the Council to re-draft a new proposal that can be backed by the US and would incorporate all the substantial feedback given in the meeting. The draft should be such that it defends the right of self-defense of all states while simultaneously complying with international laws. Blinken also said that “no member of this council — no nation in this entire body — could or would tolerate the slaughter of its people” and humanitarian aid would be let in but not a complete ceasefire.